Eastern Iowa Driver Rankings: May 10

Soppe starts 2017 where he left off 2016 in first rankings of the season

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Welcome to the Inside Track's Eastern Iowa Driver Rankings. Each week of the racing season, the Gazette's Jeremiah Davis will rank the area's top 10 drivers across all divisions.

Think the list should be different? Tweet him at @jeremiahdavis10, send him an email at jeremiah.davis@thegazette.com or leave a comment at The Inside Track by Jeremiah Davis Facebook page.

New this week: N/A

Dropped out: N/A

Others considered (in no order):  David Brandies, Luke Goedert, Benji Irvine, Tyler Bruening, Ronn Lauritzen, J.D. Auringer, Nathan Ballard, Matt Ryan, Bryce Garnhart, Rob Toland, Mark Schulte, Chris Zogg, Mitch Hovden, Kyle Olson, Cayden Carter, Johnny Spaw, Troy Hovey, Daniel Wauters, Jeremiah Hurst, Dalton Simonsen, Richie Gustin, Kyle Brown

RANK+/-NAMECLASSTHOUGHTS
1 Tyler Soppe Sport Mod He missed out on the 2016 Driver of the Year, but not by much. He missed out on the IMCA Sport Mod national championship, but not by much. But with his first seven wins of 2017 coming at seven different racetracks across Eastern Iowa (plus one in Missouri), Soppe most certainly won't miss out on the top spot for the first rankings of 2017. It doesn't matter what division in which you race. Seven wins at seven tracks to start is phenomenal.
2 Chris Simpson Late Model/Modified For the last few years, whenever the Open Late Model crowd has come through Iowa, this guy has been up front, or in Victory Lane. That has continued so far this season, with wins at 34 Raceway and Lee County Speedway in MLRA competition. He was second at Davenport and third at Independence in the MLRA Iowa swing last weekend. Toss in the fact that he's been top five multiple times in an IMCA Modified, and he's earned this spot.
3 Justin Kay Late Model/Modified There might come a day where Justin Kay climbs in an IMCA car and isn't competitive. That day isn't today - nor was it any day this spring. He won two IMCA Deery Brothers Summer Series races in three days, and that's not even been the strongest car he's been in so far this year. He has multiple IMCA Modified wins already, too. The measure of his Modified prowess might come this weekend, though.
4 Johnny Scott Modified This guy is from Las Cruces, N.M. and races out of Cameron, Mo. How is he in the Eastern Iowa Driver Rankings? Wins at Marshallltown, Farley, Independence and Vinton before the second week of May, that's how. Remember: you've got to live or race in Eastern Iowa to be eligible. Well, the Modified Super Weekend has the sometimes-USMTS driver around here a lot. He might be the favorite to win the $50,000 at this point.
5 Hunter Marriott Modified Marriott doesn't have the same number of wins in Eastern Iowa so far this spring as Scott or some others, but he's been top three basically every night he's hit the track. Twice in the last three weeks, he's had the best car on the track, but had to come from too far back with no cautions and wasn't able to finish things off. He and Kelly Shryock put on a helluva battle at Lee County Speedway last Thursday in the most recent example. 
6 Tyler Droste Modified Droste made the move back to Modified as his only racing focus for this season, and it's paid off so far this spring. He took home $1,000 at Independence a few weeks ago, and while that's the biggest win he has so far, he's in the Marriott category for strong runs without the trophies to show for it. He's been competitive in a claim and crate engine, too, which everyone knows isn't always easy.
7 Jeremiah Hurst Late Model Hurst has a couple wins so far this spring, and was in contention for multiple Deery Brothers Summer Series victories before - let's call them circumstances - intervened. In taking over the flagship No. 58 car for Roberts Motorsports piloted most recently by Ray Guss Jr., Hurst has hit the ground running with it. If he continues to run as well has he has, he'll work his way into Summer Series title contention.
8 Tony Olson Sport Mod The standard he set for himself over the last two years is almost impossible to match. He hasn't been dominant so far this year - especially at Independence Motor Speedway, where he's almost been automatic the last few years - but working out the kinks on a new car has taken a little longer than it has in the past. It just shows how special the last few years have been when even multiple wins feel surprisingly low.
9 Damon Murty Stock Car Ctrl C + Ctrl V what wrote about Justin Kay and someday not being competitive, only add roughly a decade on for the Chelsea Charger. He's another win multiple wins this spring, and even more top-3 and top-5 finishes. There's something comforting about counting on things like Murty winning races and rough racetracks in April. OK, that's not really true. His competitors hate it and we all could go without rough race tracks.
10 Troy Cordes Modified The last season-plus have been less than what Cordes came to be used to, but the start to 2017 has been a return to his 2015-and-earlier form. He's got wins and top-fives, and has been quick in the first two races at Farley Speedway, which obviously has been a priority for everyone so far. His new car seems to be agreeing with him early on. If there's such a thing as a darkhorse for the Super Weekend, he might be it.

 

l Comments: (319) 368-8884; jeremiah.davis@thegazette.com

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